Marketing inevitably continues its metamorphosis into digital marketing and, consequently, adopts new technology. Its application portfolio is filling out, necessitating a larger integration to optimize its effectiveness. In order to continue evolving, digital marketing needs to be able to count on an IT department that anticipates its needs, advises it in its choices, and provides it with suitable infrastructures.
Marketing and IT: Incomprehension. Forced to venture out on digital terrain under the pressure from innovative start-up and web giants, companies learned at their expense that they have to modernize their marketing by taking advantage of digital technology. The customer journey is now lined with multiple touchpoints. Each represents an opportunity for the brand to communicate personally with the customer in real time and therefore display relevant content, suggest products, make special offers, and enrich the customer experience. Digital marketing is becoming addicted to data and new technology. This evolution should have been favorably received by the IT department if it had, firstly, anticipated the change and, secondly, had finished modernizing its own data centers. Both absorbed with their own transformation agendas, marketing and IT failed to coordinate their objectives at the time. The split was complete.
Marketing departments were seduced by the apparent simplicity of the Cloud. Campaign automation, content management, data management platform (DMP), recommendation engine, virtual adviser (chatbot)… Marketing is fast becoming digital and cannot accept delays that are incompatible with its demands. In these conditions, it is difficult not to succumb to the charms of the Cloud: a wide selection of software that is immediately available as SaaS (Software as a Service) and a progressive investment that is not overburdened with heavy physical infrastructures. Between waiting for the IT department to be ready and a solution available in the Cloud, the choice was made quickly and resulted in the emergence of shadow IT, escaping the IT department’s control. It may be regrettable, but it was an answer to the urgent need of that moment. There is no choice but to accept that digital marketing contributes in an increasingly perceptible manner to the commercial success of a company like Amazon, where approximately 30% of its revenue comes from its recommendation engine. The price of success is that marketing apps have to, in turn, meet operational requirements. Digital marketing becomes more technical and requires new skills that overlap with those of the IT department. It is undoubtedly time to reconcile marketing and IT departments.
Digital marketing does not consist of stacking technologies and apps. Numerous IT departments initiated their transformation and integrated the Cloud in their development strategy. It is no longer private cloud versus public cloud; the time has come for hybridization. The DevOps (Development Operations) approaches favor continuous improvement of apps without evading operational requirements. The lessons of digital are starting to pay off, and the agility sought is progressively translating into services offered by IT. Thus, it is no longer impossible to reconcile innovation and industrialization – quite the contrary. Conditions have come together so that marketing and IT have everything to gain by collaborating. Market solutions in the public cloud or personalized solutions in a private cloud? The answer is not so binary. In certain cases, apps developed in a private cloud will interact via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that have software components in a public cloud. The IT department must ensure that marketing apps, just like business apps, are integrated into a coherent set that complies with the company’s strategic objectives as well as the operational requirements concerning performance, availability, security, and development. IT needs to help marketing early on with its decisions by offering validation, qualification, or referencing processes, or even a portal with a catalog of solutions and services. Avoid creating new technology silos within the company that will end up leading to complications.
Data should reconcile marketing and IT. Beyond apps and infrastructures, data is at the heart of the customer experience. Digital has changed our idea of customer knowledge. It has become dynamic and contextual. It is enriched by multiple data sources inside and outside the company and takes into account the numerous digital traces that Internet users leave in their wake. The precision of the segmentation, targeting, and predictive marketing will depend on the quantity and quality of the data. Given its expertise, the IT department has an essential role in implementing the technical platform for collecting and reconciling data in a consolidated view that can be accessed using any marketing app. These technical architectures require the expertise of infrastructure specialists. They must be designed to adapt to the nature of the – often unstructured – data (text, images, audio, video, etc.) and to evolve at an uninterrupted growth rate.
The company is data driven. Marketing perfectly illustrates the importance of data’s role, but it’s actually the entire company and the entire economy that depend on the pooling and sharing of these data repositories. Who better to tackle this task than IT? Let’s also not forget that, in May 2018, all companies will have to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is therefore time to bring order to data.